Connecticut residents with intellectual disabilities could start moving into new apartments and groups homes as early as July now that the state legislature has added $4 million in funding for such placements, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Developmental Services said. In approving a state budget Saturday, the General Assembly agreed to the new funding to move some clients off a waiting list for residential placements, Joan Barnish, the DDS spokeswoman, said. The legislature also added $600,000 to DDS’ budget for 2014-15 for more grants to provide support to families whose children or grandchildren have intellectual or developmental disabilities, she said. Each person’s individual needs will be assessed, so some could receive services soon while others might wait six months or more into the new fiscal year that begins in July 1, she said. The additional funding came as a relief to members of Our Families Can’t Wait, an advocacy group formed in the fall by parents and caregivers of DDS clients.
When Velma Williams-Estes became a widow three years ago, it really hit her that she had to plan for permanent care for her daughter Deborah Ann Williams, 46, who has Down syndrome. “I am scared,” Williams-Estes, 66, of Meriden, said. “Every day, every day, I pray to God that I’ll be here, that he will give me the strength and the stamina to be here for her entire life.”
To speak out for more residential placements for people like her daughter, Williams-Estes has joined Our Families Can’t Wait, an advocacy group formed last fall by Connecticut families who are waiting for homes and apartments to open for their children and grandchildren with intellectual disabilities. The advocacy group has been lobbying at the state Capitol to gain support for a $149 million proposal that would dramatically increase funding for new state-funded group homes, home support and community companion homes – licensed family homes for three or fewer people with intellectual disabilities. The group is receiving organizational help from the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199.